About us

Since 2001, Cascade has been committed to creating custom, targeted PR and marketing communications strategies for every size business from corporate and mid-market to small business, startups and nonprofits.

Today, we are a virtual story agency with the know-how to attract customers, media, partners and more. And, we not only understand but we are experts in the secret sauce to succeeding in a digital world. We know how to tell your story where it matters most.

Cascade takes into account all of your needs and builds a customized approach to making all of our clients successful. Whether you have an established business launching or breathing life into a new product, or you're preparing to launch or grow a startup, our team becomes part of yours as a long-term marketing partner and trusted advisor.


We pride ourselves on being ethical journalists and PR/marketing professionals with a commitment to our clients. Just ask our clients!

As a virtual agency, we staff our accounts with veteran communications and marketing pros who really know their stuff. 

Today's technology allows Cascade to offer our larger project clients a veteran team, not interns, on their account. Our awesome team affordably works to grow your business by generating positive media attention, brand strategy, responsive videos and graphics, and engaging digital marketing. 

Our partners are handpicked for their expertise and common ethical approach to offering only the best services - media relations, graphic design, video , digital ads, and big scope brand projects with one of the top brand firms in the country.


No other agency offers what Cascade Communications does for clients. We've got a deep bench, are truly unique and leading the way in our industry.

Jennifer Fortney, Cascade Communications, public relations agency, digital marketing, VoyageChicago
Jennifer Fortney, public relatons, NBC5 Chicago, Inc. Well

Our Founder

With more than 20 years’ experience in journalism, public relations and marketing communications, Cascade Communications Founder Jennifer Fortney has successfully created, implemented and managed PR and integrated marketing programs for some of America's top Fortune 1000 companies, and a variety of small businesses and startups across the country and around the world.


She started her career writing broadcast news, transitioned into sports marketing and then took on the position of Director of Promotions and Marketing for a radio station, where she was a jack of all marketing trades. Moving to Chicago, she began working at one of the world’s largest corporate consumer PR firms and later a boutique agency, opening Cascade Communications in 2001, all with a focus on consumer lifestyle products and services.


Jennifer is one of few individuals to receive a personal bonus from a Fortune 500 client for her successful work in single-handedly managing a nearly $1 million national campaign.


Known for her nose for news, she has achieved thousands of media placements for clients and developed a new model for marketing communications that offers clients results.  Jennifer has helped several startups prepare for launch by consulting on operations, production, staffing, growth management and fundraising. These make a difference in ensuring successful marketing campaigns that show results.


Jennifer has a Bachelor's of Science in Journalism, Business Communications from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, with a minor in Music - Vocal Performance. She has sat on several boards and conducted pro bono work for a variety of nonprofits. 


She is a speaker, guest lecturer and was the PR Instructor at SCORE Chicago for 5 years. Jennifer has been interviewed in a variety of media and podcasts, was a regular contributor to NBCChicago.com “Inc. Well” blog, the Chicago Tribune and is an expert and contributor to several small business and startup media outlets. www.CascadeComms.com


jfortney (@) cascadecomms (dot) com

Jennifer Walus

Senior PR Strategist

Multicultural Marketing Expert

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in northern Virginia, Jennifer serves as an independent marketing consultant and senior public relations strategist for numerous organizations and agencies. Since 2009, she has planned and executed consumer and B2B marketing strategies for several associations and organizations:

In 2003, Jennifer launched the Multicultural practice at Edelman Chicago and served as Vice President until her departure 2009. During that time, she grew the group to include the multi-agency Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, Walmart, Burger King, AT&T Wireless, SCJohnson, Shell, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), Butterball Turkey, Kimberly-Clark, the Texas Department of Transportation, Unilever Home and Personal Care brands—most notably the award-winning Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.


Previously, Jennifer launched the public relations department at small Hispanic agency Sanchez & Associates (formerly Sanchez Healy) where she spearheaded grassroots public relations campaigns for the Illinois Department of Public Health’s teen anti-tobacco program and Jewel-Osco, spent three years in the Brand Marketing practice of global public relations agency Burson-Marsteller conducting retail marketing and crisis communications for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and got her start at Weber Shandwick (formerly BSMG Worldwide) implementing consumer and health strategies for the got milk? campaign.


Fluent in Spanish and Italian and proficient in French, Jennifer received the Dartmouth College Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2010. An avid a cappella singer and scuba diver, she lives in the western Chicago suburbs with her husband and three children.

Lidia is a more than a talented artist and designer. She is a skilled brand strategist and our longtime partner. In 2017, Lidia wrote and published A to Z of Branding: A Primer & Workbook.

For the past 25+ years, Lidia has worked with a wide variety of companies and nonprofits in nearly every industry, developing brand framework and strategic design direction that helps organizations better engage with their audience and attract opportunities.

Most recently Lidia designed the logo for Crawligator a startup client who re-imagined an old tummy time toy from the late 60’s by redesigning it to meet today’s safety standards. She needed a brand that would speak to parents and the juvenile product industry. Lidia hit a homerun!

She believes in giving back, and outside of her consumer design work, dedicates time to helping nonprofits.

A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Lidia is WBE-certified, a board member of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits (CAN) and committee member for Association Forum and American Marketing Association. She is a speaker, instructor for nonprofit Web Advisor, and guest blogger for Keela and Bloomerang.

Lidia Varesco

Brand Strategist & Designer

Chicago I Omaha

Chicago, IL 

T: 773/961-7791

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© 2020 Cascade Communications Public relations agency and marketing communications for small business and startups. Offices in Chicago and Omaha.